Love is in the air. No, not just because of Valentine’s Day — unless you’re referring to Valentine Morgenstern, hehe — but because of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, too. This past Saturday, we revealed the first-ever still of Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis as part of TMI‘s week of “Mortal Love,” which kicked off the same day. Now, to go even further with our obsession, we’re giving you the first piece of our interviews with the cast!
Prior to the movie wrapping up filming, we visited the Toronto set back in October 2012 and chatted with stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, author Cassandra Clare, and more of the cast and crew. Since it’s the most romantic day of the year and all, get a taste of what we talked about while on location with their juiciest tidbits on Lily and Jamie’s chemistry, the film’s love triangle, plus tidbits on those who weren’t in love with the idea of Jamie playing Jace Wayland:
Teen: As the author of the series, what were your feelings when you first saw Jamie and Lily together during their audition together?
Cassandra Clare: It was really embarrassing. I cried, I was so happy. We had been looking for Jace; it was an ordeal process. Every young, blond actor in Hollywood tried out and Lily, bless her soul, went in over and over for chemistry reads with people, and Jace is a tough character. He is a guy who covers up his vulnerability and is real personality with a lot of layers of just being a jerk. If you play him wrong, he’ll just come out as a jerk, but if you play him right, he comes across as “I’ll use my wit to hide my broken heart and my pain and I’m vulnerable and love me.” Nobody was quite hitting that, so Lily did all these chemistry reads with all these different people and I was starting to think “Maybe no one can play this role; maybe I have written a bizarre character that cannot be played.”
And then Jamie came in… off a long flight from London and literally just came straight in to the studio in his jeans and shirt and he auditioned with Lily and it was amazing. He knocked it out of the park, he was terrific. He was funny when he needed to be funny; he was vulnerable when he needed to be vulnerable and he got across all of the layers of what was going on with the character pretty effortlessly and I could tell. Sony called me up and told me they were going to send me an audition tape and it’s Jamie Campbell Bower and I thought “Oh, the little guy from Sweeney Todd… really?” They said, “Don’t make any assumptions, that was many years ago, just watch it.” And I said, “I’ll watch it with an open mind.” So I started watching it and I was sitting there as they were just reading off literally the dialogue from the books and I just started to cry because I was like, those are my characters. It was perfect. So from then on I was completely cemented — I love Jamie and didn’t want anybody else.
Teen: Which scene were they testing with?
Cassandra: It was a set of scenes. I hope I’m not getting this wrong, but I believe it’s the first time they talk and he sort of explains what a Shadowhunter is. Then it was a romantic scene and then it was a scene in which they fight. We were just trying to display the range of chemistry they can have.
Teen: Do you two, [Lily and Jamie,] remember your chemistry test?
Lily Collins: This was about two years ago now. I read with a couple of different guys that had come in. Jamie just came in and… that was it. He was just himself. He had this perfect mixture of being this witty, kind of jokey, cocky — in the best sense of the word — but also extremely vulnerable, emotional and this great mixture of emotions. And that’s what Jace is. He has to walk in a room and make people turn their heads and that’s what Jamie does. He’s been so dedicated to the stunts and he’s been so dedicated to proving what he can bring in the role and what he is capable of. But he doesn’t even need to try. And again, that’s who Jace is. He’s effortless, so I got all that in the room. I didn’t get the stunts part, obviously, because we didn’t do stunts, but he just brought everything to the room that day. And he left and I just turned to everyone and was like, “I really don’t know what else you could be looking for. That’s Jace.” When you get that kind of guttural instinct, I think you have to go with it. I’m so excited for everyone to see what he’s done.
Jamie Campbell Bower: I think I walked into that audition; I walked into that camera test knowing that I wasn’t necessarily the person that they wanted to go for and that’s a hard room to walk into. That’s ****ing tough. So I had to go in there and I had to be able to a) prove myself and b) there had to be something more; there had to be this, like — it was funny because it happened without sort of looking for it. Like, Lily and I just automatically clicked and these two characters just came out of us and it was like we had known each other for years, it was so weird. We watched back the camera tests… gosh, when we first started shooting, so maybe three months ago. And we both looked — I was bloated, I was fat, I’m surprised anybody wanted me to walk into that room and we’re both in completely different places, but this connection was there and that’s an amazing, amazing thing to have. I think that’s great for the movie and I think above anything what I was really drawn to in this story is… this is ultimately this love story and I think that’s a lot of things we see in popular culture nowadays, and things that have succeeded throughout time, I think that’s what’s happened here, like Romeo and Juliet and, you know, well you’ve heard of movies, not to mention one but Twilight. That was so successful because people invested in the love between these two characters and that’s what I want them to have with this. Yes, there’s a lot of other s*** that’s going on, but that’s what I want them to.
Teen: That was before filming. Can you talk a little more about the romance within the movie itself?
Lily: There’s romance in the story. That is obviously Simon, Jace and Clary, but it’s not a movie about a love triangle. Every character has a relationship with every other character in this. The romance is only one portion of this kind of epic adventure. And yes, it fuels certain scenes and it’s an undertone, but it’s in no way a love story that has action in it. It’s a full-blown action/adventure fantasy film that is based in reality that has this romance in it. I think from the first draft to now, it’s definitely got a lot more of that, kind of propelling-you-forward, less of a romantic kind of teen flick, if you will. It also has a lot more humor than the first draft because Cassandra’s writing… That’s the beauty of the writing, is that you end up giggling when you’re reading it because of something Simon said or Jace is so cocky, you’re like, “Did he really just say that?” They’ve added some of those lines back in, so there is a comedic tone to these dark moments that kind of makes the audience relax for a second. And they are witty, so we have a lot more of Cassie’s voice back into it.
Teen: How is it working with Jamie? Do you think fans will appreciate him as Jace?
Robert Kulzer (producer): Yeah. Interesting young man. He responded very, very strongly to the Jace character. Where he had a vision of this guy and he had a hard time because, you know, as much as [the fans] embraced Lily and also some of the other cast members that we cast later on, the fans immediately went love it, love it, love it, love it. With Jace, they were always a bit, “Oh, but he’s not a Jace.” You know, “Jamie, he’s not a Jace.” And he said they haven’t seen anything yet… He has — there’s an evangelic, otherworldly quality that he created that knocks your socks off. You know, I think he is emulating the character so much that, obviously, now I don’t even know the difference anymore between Jamie Campbell Bower and Jace. But I think he knew that he had it in him. And when we add the two of them together, Lily and Jamie, we felt it very strongly. We felt like, “Whoa, this is not acting; this is real stuff.”
Don Carmody (producer): Obviously there’s chemistry, but he also one of the hardest working kids. I mean he’s been in training for eight months.
Teen: How much are you looking at what fans are saying?
Jamie: I think at the beginning I was very much aware of what was being said, whether it be positive or negative; predominately negative. That’s something that you’ve gotta deal with. I have to appreciate the fact that this is a series of books that people have already encountered and people… will already have preconceived notions about who the characters are and I have to respect that and be able to bring some of those qualities that they believe the character to have to the movie, while still sticking true to how I feel. Did it affect me? F*** yeah, of course it affected me. I’d be a cold, heartless and self-absorbed person to have it not, but it made me want to prove to these people that say I can’t do this that I really can. If I can win over 50% of the people who said that I couldn’t do this or didn’t want me to do this, then I feel like I’ve done my job.
Stay tuned for more on-set interviews and exclusives with the cast on Teen.com! Now that you’ve learned more about Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower during shooting, what do you think of them playing Clary and Jace? Tell us your opinions, and make sure to check out The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in theaters on August 23, 2013!